EVO Pizzeria has been recognized as one of the best pizzerias in the United States, and not because they are churning out pepperoni pies like a factory.

EVO was founded in 2005 with a farm-first philosophy, and today, the North Charleston restaurant proudly lists its producers on a chalkboard hanging over the kitchen. Mepkin Abbey and Lowland Farms were but a few of the luminaries on a recent day.

Blake McCormick took over as executive chef in May, having joined the kitchen about 21/2 years ago. The Massachusetts native first migrated to the South by way of Mobile, Ala., to attend Spring Hill College and then graduated with an advertising and marketing degree.

But that career didn’t satisfy her. So on a whim, she moved to Charleston, which she once had visited. She had no job, but “decided I wanted to cook,” and enrolled in the Art Institute of Charleston. McCormick finished last December.

Getting a “mystery” Community-Supported Agriculture box from Thornhill Farm put McCormick right at ease since she regularly works with whatever produce is coming from local farms.

“I deal with that all the time,” she says. “It’s rare that I seek (specific) things out. I have these relationships with the farmers; what is the best thing you have?”

Still, McCormick can understand how a home cook might be flummoxed by the variety in a big box of veggies. She has words of advice: Find a starting point.

“I figured what I wanted to center the meal around,” she says, landing on pork tenderloin as her protein of choice and building vegetable dishes around that.

There were a generous amount of greens in her box, something common to many of the CSA shares in Lowcountry. Many types of greens grow well in the coastal Southeast climate.

But, McCormick says, “Just because it’s arugula, I don’t have to make a salad.”

Instead, she would try to find ways to incorporate it into several different dishes.

Or when faced with too much of a good veggie and the fear of throwing it out, pickle it, like EVO frequently does.

“Pickles are a great method of preservation,” McCormick says. “It’s probably one of the more simple things we do.”

Almost any vegetable is suitable, and there are many great pickle books to learn from, she says. EVO has done turnips, bok choy, beets and cucumber, for example.

Still stumped for what to do with the vegetables? McCormick recommends a book that helped her through cooking school. “Culinary Artistry” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page lists individual ingredients and suggests food and flavor pairings as well as cooking methods and recipes. The idea is to encourage more free-form thinking about creating your own menu.

Pork Loin With N.C. Apple Chutney and Asian Greens

Serves 4

For pork:

2 medium apples

2 medium carrots

2 turnips

1 (12- to 16-ounce) pork tenderloin

Salt and pepper

Canola or vegetable oil for searing

1 bunch thyme


Roughly chop apples, carrots and turnips.

Season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat skillet on high, add oil and when hot, begin searing pork on all sides. When browned, remove from pan and rest. In a shallow baking pan, put apples and vegetables in a single layer. Lay pork on top of vegetables. Stuff thyme underneath. Roast in a 250-degree oven until internal temperature of the pork registers 165 degrees. Let meat rest before carving. Plate with apple and vegetables, apple chutney (recipe follows) over the pork and the greens (recipe follows).

For apple chutney:

Makes about 2 cups

4 apples stemmed, cored and peeled, chopped into equal-size small pieces

2 turnips, peeled, chopped into equal-size small pieces

3 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seed

4 tablespoons honey

1 cup apple cider vinegar

11/2 cups apple cider

Salt to taste


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer on medium heat, stirring until all liquid absorbs. Spread on sheet pan to cool.

For Asian greens:

About 4 servings

1 head baby bok choy

1 head tatsoi

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup cider vinegar

Salt and pepper


Trim greens and roughly chop. Thinly coat bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat on high. Add greens to sear and wilt, then add vinegar. Season to taste.

Sweet Potato Gratin


2 pounds kale, cut into a chiffonade (thin ribbons)

4 tablespoon butter, divided use, plus butter for greasing pan

1 onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

11/2 cups heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon flour

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly, preferably on a mandoline

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese


Cook kale and onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter until the kale is wilted and onion starts to soften. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a colander to drain. Press until liquid drains out.

Combine cream and garlic in a pot and bring to a simmer. Hold at a warm temperature.

In a separate pan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour, whisking in slowly. Cook until the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Stir in warm cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 21/2-quart baking dish. Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom. Sprinkle with half of the herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Layer with half of the kale and half of the cheese. Pour half of the cream mixture over. Repeat. Bake 1 hour.

Stuffed Peppers With Caponata

For the peppers:

4 sweet peppers

Extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups arugula

Salt and pepper to taste

11/2 cups cooked farro (al dente), cooled

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


Cut off tops of peppers, remove seeds and pith.

Thinly coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. Heat the skillet on medium high and cook the arugula until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.

In a bowl, combine farro, arugula, tomato sauce and feta. Stuff each pepper with the mixture, but do not overfill. Place peppers on their sides on a sheet tray and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Grease the sheet pan. Rub each pepper thoroughly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Using aluminum foil, cover each pepper opening to keep filling intact. Put pan in preheated oven. Leave peppers in oven until skins are deeply charred, turning once. Remove from oven. Place peppers on a cool pan and cover tightly with plastic wrap. When cooled, remove wrap and gently peel skins off. Remove foil. Set peppers aside.

For caponata:

8 slender, Asian-style eggplant, diced evenly

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 small bulbs fennel, chopped

3 small carrots, diced

2 medium sweet onions, diced

1/2 cup green olives, diced

1/4 cup capers, drained

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup tomato sauce

15 basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade (thin ribbons)


Toss the diced eggplant with olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Thinly coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Saute the eggplant, fennel, carrots and onions until slightly browned and caramelized. Add remaining ingredients, lower heat and cook to reduce. Set aside until assembly.

For assembly and serving:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Reheat the caponata and keep warm. Put pan of peppers in oven and heat through, about 20 minutes. Top with caponata and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.